Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Color Artist: Federico Blee
Cover Artists: Brett Booth, Adelso Corona & Guru-eFX
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Last Annihilation comes to an end. Dormammu launched an invasion on the Universe, targeting specific worlds with his Mindless Ones. He even possessed the body of Ego The Living Planet to manifest in this reality. However, the Guardians of the Galaxy and their allies have pushed back against his advance on multiple fronts and it all comes to a close in Guardians of the Galaxy #18.
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If I had to describe The Last Annihilation in one world it would be “underwhelming.” Throughout this entire crossover event, I was hoping that it would be fun and bring something new to warrant being called an “Annihilation” event, let alone “The Last Annihilation.” Instead, it feels like the sequel to Annihilation that we didn’t need. The art team do a good job of making the book look good whether it’s the Guardians or Domammu himself.
The comic follows Dr. Doom and his team of Guardians with him as they complete their end of a complicated plan devised by him and Rocket Raccoon to defeat Dormammu. Essentially, their plan is to defend the planets targeted by Dormammu to prevent his dark ritual, disrupt his magic, then bring a huge space gun to shoot him. It sounds simple enough after having read all of the different tie-ins.
Speaking of those tie-ins, most of them aren’t really essential reading for this crossover, only S.W.O.R.D. and the Cable one-shot were really necessary. Other than those two, you can just stick with the main Guardians book and you’re good. The rest of the comic has the Guardians come together and pull the trigger to defeat Dormammu, banishing him back to the Dark Dimension. This comic is very by-the-numbers and predictable except for a certain moment that I’ll go into in the Spoilers section.
A big issue is that Al Ewing fails to embrace the obvious fun factor of having Dormammu invade the Universe, let alone while he’s possessing the body of Ego The Living Planet. And I know how that sounds since his solution to this event is to have the Guardians shoot Dormammu with a really big space gun. But here’s the thing, he never has Dormammu do anything in this comic, let alone this entire event. He looks cool but he doesn’t actually do anything except look menacing.
This speaks to the larger problem of the entire crossover. Throughout the event, Dormammu doesn’t live up to the threat of Annihilus in the original Annihilation event or Ultron in Annihilation: Conquest. The thing is they all have something to offer as lead villains, whether it’s Annihilus and his destructive Annihilation Wave killing everything in their path, or Ultron commanding the Phalanx to convert and conquer the entire Kree empire Borg-style. Even Dormmamu brings dark magic and surreal supernatural horror into the mix, and possessing Ego was actually a cool surprise. But Al Ewing does nothing with that and all you get are Mindless Ones attacking.
Also, the comic avoids the obvious question: Why didn’t they call Dr. Strange? It’s not like the event showed he was unavailable or unreachable, they just never bring him up. At first, this could’ve been chocked up to Abigail Brand secretly blocking communications to Alpha Flight and thus the Avengers. But then she calls T’Challa back on Earth in the Black Panther tie-in and even he doesn’t suggest calling Dr. Strange. It’s an obvious flaw that the entire event neglects to deal with at all.
The latter part of this comic also seems to be primarily setup for later stories. After Dormammu is defeated, the comic shifts back to Dr. Doom on the Chitauri homeworld, where he stands victorious with his Doom-bots and meets with his silent partner in this whole event – the Skrull priestess Sister Talionis. They were behind Dormammu’s latest incursion into the Universe. Apparently, Sister Talionis “seduced Ego” off-panel into her cult and made him susceptible to Dormammu’s possession.
So in the end, Dormammu wasn’t even the real villain, it was Dr. Doom all along and the comic proceeds to set up two other stories. The first is that Sister Talionis will be a villainess for the Guardians and Hulkling later. As part of their alliance, Talionis gets to rule the Chitauri as their new queen, and she very much plans to use them. The second setup is with Dr. Doom as one of his goals was to store some of Dormammu’s dark magic inside his armor. The comic clearly hints that he’s saving it to use in the future Fantastic Four story “Reckoning War.” These reveals make it feel like this whole crossover was just setup for future Marvel comic stories.
Guardians of the Galaxy #18 serves as the big finale to The Last Annihilation. The comic is good but I wish it could be great since it’s very by-the-numbers and the story is pretty predictable, especially if you kept up with the tie-ins. Dormammu himself isn’t an entertaining villain, since he doesn’t really do anything except look menacing. The crossover event as a whole just feels underwhelming, and it’s Dr. Doom who ends up stealing the show in this comic in more ways than one.